By: Adam Johnson
Tonight’s win was definitely one to remember. Things were not looking good for the Hounds through the first half of the ballgame. Oilmen pitcher and Cy Young candidate Enrique Zamora was absolutely dealing through his first six innings, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out nine. Fortunately for the Hounds, Zamora was only working with a 1-0 lead, and luckily for DuPage, their pitcher Joe Palasiewicz also did an excellent job of keeping runners from crossing the plate. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Hounds finally found their stride and started to put the bat on the ball.
Ryan Fitzgerald was one for four in the ballgame, but he definitely made that one hit count as he led off the bottom half of the seventh inning with a no doubt, solo homerun that tied the ballgame up at 1-1. To many folks surprise, Zamora trotted out to the mound to start the eighth inning, despite having thrown over 105 pitches.
Joe Duncan came up in the eighth and lined a hard ground ball up the middle for his lone hit of the game. Trent Carrier stepped to the plate next and drew a walk. With runners at first and second, Shane Carrier stepped to the dish after a 0-3 day against Zamora. Despite his struggles, Carrier smacked a hard hit ground ball between the shortstop and third baseman that allowed the speedy Duncan to score from second.
After an Oilmen pitching change and a Richie Gorski walk, the bases were loaded for Hunter Morris who, like Carrier, was 0-3 at the time of the time of his eighth inning at bat. After fighting threw multiple pitches, Morris dropped a bases clearing double into the left-center gap, pushing the score to 5-1. Oilmen players and fans were left stunned by the huge momentum shift.
However, the Oilmen did not let the four run, ninth-inning deficit faze them. They battled back and rallied for three runs in the top half of the ninth, but ultimately fell just short of what would have been the comeback of the year thanks to the shut down pitching of Bobby Wenthe and the defensive excellence of Shane Carrier. Wenthe, a usual first baseman or right fielder entered the game with the bases loaded and a 5-2 lead after the Oilmen found a way to get to reliever Nick McKinney. After a hit batsman and a sac fly, Wenthe now had a more manageable situation to handle with one out and runners on first and second. That's when the play of all plays happened.
Arguably the best hitter in the MCL, Stefano Belmonte skied a deep fly ball to right field that was hooking into foul territory. Shane Carrier proceeded to run down the slicing rocket and then completely lay out, full extension into foul territory to catch the missile and secure the second out. With two outs and all the momentum, Wenthe got the final Oilmen batter to pop out to second to secure the crucial Hounds win and notch his first save of the season.
For the Hounds, Richie Gorski also reached base two other times on another walk and a single. Bobby Wenthe also reached base twice on a walk and a single and Dustin Krob was one for four from the leadoff spot with one single.
What gets lost in the late-inning excitement was the performance of pitcher Joe Palasiewicz who threw an excellent eight innings in which he surrendered only one run on eight hits while striking out five. Luckily he was the pitcher of record since he was last to pitch before the Hounds’ eighth-inning explosion, which means he was able to lock down his first win of the season. As mentioned earlier, the Oilmen found a way to get to the Hounds’ most trusted reliever, Nick McKinney who allowed three runs on one hit while hitting two batters and walking one. The clutch Wenthe, then stepped in and didn’t break a sweat, getting out of the inning in just 11 pitches while giving up no runs on no hits.
For NWI, Brad Wood and Fred Smart were both two for four with two singles and a RBI while Sam Geraci was also two for four with two singles. Stefano Belmonte and Donovan Chandler both reached base twice on a walk and a single. Alec Olund went one for five with a single and a RBI. Tyler Sroczynski drove in a Oilmen run with a sac fly.
Enrique Zamora’s final line in the box score does not look pretty by any means, but he was flat out dominant tonight until the eighth inning. He ended up allowing four runs in seven and a third innings of work on six hits while striking out nine. The Hounds continue to tag reliever Richard Yelnick who gave up one run on one hit and walk in his two-thirds of an inning of work.
The Hounds’ next contest will take place Friday, July 24th at 5:00 PM (CT) against the Michigan City Lakers at the Marquette Sports Athletic Complex. The Hounds currently lead that season series seven games to one.
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